Sunday, March 02, 2008

Q & A with Andrea Robinson, Delta Sommelier

Andrea Robinson is an award-winning sommelier, wine educator and food and wine writer. This woman knows her wines, and she's got the credentials to prove it: she's one of only 14 women in the world who have been appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers and she was the first woman ever chosen Best Sommelier in the United States by the Sommelier Society of America. She's also a gracious interviewee as I learned when I sat down for a quick chat with her and her husband, John (aren't they the cutest?) on Sunday afternoon at the Food and Wine festival. We sat in the lounge Delta had constructed at the Tasting Village complete with business elite chairs (so comfortable, each equiped with their own TV monitors, of course). Andrea has partnered with Delta to enhance their wine program and was conducting wine and popcorn pairings at the Delta lounge using some the wines now available on business elite flights.
I see a camera crew with you guys. What are you currently working on?
My husband and I are collaborating on an in-flight “foodie travel” show for Delta where we get into the soul of the local food scene. We talk to local chefs and find out the places they like to eat, where they recommend. We've had Thomas Keller on the show and we'll have Michelle Bernstein on for the Miami episode.
That sounds like a foodie's dream job – food and travel.
It's great! We also enjoy the people part of it, the passion of it. We meet so many creative, fantastic people through this work.
Have you had a chance to check out some Miami restaurants?
Last night we had dinner at the Grill at the Setai and it was fantastic. It had a sexy vibe and the quality and diversity of the wine and food was excellent. We really enjoyed it.
Where else do you plan to visit?
We're still compiling our list for the show but so far we'll be visiting Michy's, Versailles, Michael's Genuine, Joes Stone Crabs, Front Porch Cafe and Brosia.
What are some of the challenges of putting together an in-flight wine selection?
Well first of all, quality stemware is out of the question on a plane, there's no space for it and it's not realistic. So you're limited there. Also, your senses are dulled at such high altitudes so we needed to find wines with big character, with flavor intensity.
What can business travelers expect from the new selections?
What we've put together is a nice range of classics for the collector who is used to an elite drinking experience but also plenty of “discovery” wines for novices who are interested in sampling and finding something they like.
What are we tasting today?
We've got a Rodney Strong Symmetry 2004 Meritage which is like a typical Bordeaux and we're pairing that with parmesan popcorn. A Wente Riva Ranch 2006 chardonnay with salty caramel popcorn to really bring out the sweetness. We've also got a Mionetto Proseco which is a perfect drink to have before take-off, really refreshing.
Best wine for a wine-newbie?
The Wente Riva chardonnay. It's about $17 a bottle but you get a lot more than you pay for. It's a “wow” kind of wine with a rich barrel-fermented buttery flavor.

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